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Admin Pro Forum

Admin Pro Forum

Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.

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Question: "I don't make a whole lot of money as an admin, and I find myself shelling out a little cash here and there just to keep my job running smoothly—mostly buying office supplies, software and apps I feel I need to do things better, but also pitching in for birthday gifts, supplementing potlucks, and even paying to participate in all our football pools and guess-the-baby's-birthdate contests to show team spirit. Do I have reason to be a little resentful that my job isn't exactly free to do?” — Tammy, Documentation Coordinator

Question: "Frankly, our admin team makes a lot of mistakes. We deal with a lot of paperwork and we create typos, overlook incorrect addresses, forget to format things correctly, mislabel files, etc. It’s all well and good to tell people to ‘be more careful,’ but there’s got to be a better way to put people into a mindset that cuts down on simple errors. Who’s got a solution?”  — Pru, Executive Finance Assistant

Question: "Maybe I'm just getting old, but the more technology we use in our office, the less I want to keep up. I still use shorthand to take minutes, find names and addresses fast with my Rolodex, and far prefer the phone to email. Am I the only one who's hanging on to the old ways, or are people finding that not every 'advance' at work has made things easier?"  — Marcia, Human Resource Area Specialist

Question: "It seems like every meeting we have follows the same pattern: People cover a lot of issues, make a lot of points, and then we walk out thinking, “Um, what actually gets done now?” We really need to buckle down and figure out a way to get everyone to think in terms of setting specific goals that are pursued right away, but it’s tough to control all the meaningless exchanges that make people feel like they’ve contributed but actually take us nowhere. Help!”  — George, Front Office Coordinator

Question: "I’ll sometimes have weeks when I feel like I’ve totally lost my spirit and enthusiasm, only to bounce back the following week when things at work go well. It seems like every time I think I just don’t have what it takes to keep going with this job, it was just a phase—but I sure do keep experiencing those phases! What are the signals that I need to move on because the point of real, no-going-back burnout has finally come?” — Tula, Administrative Assistant of Budget

Question: "On our admin team we have 'Karen'—a good worker except when it comes to helping out others if they haven't met her precise expectations. Her view is that if people don't follow procedures to the letter, then their problems should be ignored in order to teach them a lesson, even if this means a deadline is missed, a report goes out incorrectly, or a very minor mistake that could easily be fixed is left to become a bigger one through her inaction. I know she has a point about showing people the need for order, but aren't we here to help those we work with above all things?" — Christine, Operations Clerk
Question: "I feel strange when I talk about my enthusiasm for my work. I'm basically a mid-level admin and have been for four years, but I love it! Maybe I've just gotten lucky with my circumstances or the right combination of challenges, but I can't be the only one who just plain enjoys doing this for a living, helping people in a thousand different ways. I want to find out how many admins really love their job like I do!" — Vanessa, Property Administrator

Question: “I’ve always wanted to send out a meeting invitation to our whole office to give some informal hands-on training on our copiers, since I see no reason that everyone should be so helpless when it comes to clearing jams, changing toner, and knowing their way around the screens. But my boss is against it; he sees all of that as the admins’ job, even though we waste a lot of time dealing with these very easy-to-fix problems. Am I the only one who thinks it’s necessary to train everyone on this, not just the admins?” – Sharon, Senior Assistant

Question: "I just moved into an administrative position after being very physically active at my old job, and the first thing a new colleague said to me was, ‘Good luck with the way this gig breaks your body down little by little!’ I do wonder about carpal tunnel syndrome, and weight gain from immobility, and what sitting in a chair for so long will do to me over the years … just what am I in for, anyway?” – Kirk, Data Technician/Receptionist

Question: "I work in a very big office and our many managers need every kind of support imaginable. I want to spend the next 12 months really mastering the one administrative skill that will set me apart from the other people on our admin team and turn me into, well, a star. I not only want to guarantee I'll always have a job here, but show I'm someone who can deliver something no one else can. Can any experienced admins tell me the one thing they learned how to do that really changed the way their supervisors looked at them?" — Nina, HR Assistant

Question: "Where I work, our Internet usage is monitored, our time is tracked to the minute, we have to log in and out of every application so the managers can see who is doing what and when, and the steps of every project are time-logged to make sure we’re using our time efficiently. This has all begun to feel oppressive—even though HR tells us that it facilitates our performance reviews and makes the raises and promotions process orderly and noncontroversial. Does anyone but me feel caged in by the way so many jobs now keep such a close eye on us?”  – Blair, Broker’s Assistant

Question: "Every admin job I apply for asks me about my salary requirements and how much I made at my last position. I guess I still haven’t figured out the right response to this—whether to be perfectly honest, undervalue myself to get a better chance at being hired, or shoot for the moon. Which answer really gets the best results?” – Sam, High School Secretary

Question: "Our office is thinking about converting to Windows 8 now rather than waiting till it’s absolutely necessary, but my boss wants us to be able to answer one question first: What problem does it solve? He’s not a fan of bells and whistles for their own sake and wants to upgrade now only if someone can show that version 8 will save us time or energy. Can anyone tell me if it gives us something that’s either missing or doesn’t work in the previous version?” – Betty, Residential Property Manager

Question: "Have you ever surveyed the executives you or your team work for regarding the level of support they receive and the skill set of the admin team? Do you have a survey or resource you can share?"  — Heather, Executive Assistant

Question: “Is it a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy violation for your employer to ask for your diagnosis on your excused absence letter from your physician?” – J., Texas

Question: “My boss has asked me to come up with ideas to help our staff become more team-player oriented. At a previous job she and a co-worker brought all of their office staff together, paired them up with Legos, and had one read directions while standing behind the one putting the item together. She said the results were fantastic because it showed the staff members how others perceive another giving directions and how they interpret them. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make being a ‘team-player’ fun?”  Mary

Question: “I’ve been an admin for about a year, and am thinking about finishing my college degree studies at night. Since I really enjoy this field, I’m wondering if I’m better off just working hard and getting better at it rather than spending my nights for two years getting a degree mostly for the sake of having one. How much job experience do you think it will take to look as good on a résumé as a diploma would?” – Jane, Support Team Leader

Question: “I read recently that your day has either been made or broken by the time you’ve been at your desk for only a half hour, and your routine from the moment you wake up should be carefully engineered toward maximizing your calm and contentment so that the workday begins well. In this case, I’m a disaster, with my mornings at home being chaotic and everything rushing at me very early in the office. Does anyone have a recipe for a morning routine that really sets a good tone for the next eight hours?” – Kat, District Secretary

Question: “My boss is definitely a forward-thinking person, and now she’s really stirred up the pot where I work by suggesting we ban the word ‘assistant.’ She thinks it makes people see one worker as less important than another, and this becomes a stigma. She doesn’t want to change job functions, just the way people perceive them. Does anyone have any good ideas for a better word for what people like me do to help a superior in her job?”  – Kelvin, Support Assistant

Question: “My current job, which I’ve had for nine months, is going sour fast and I don’t think I can go on. Here’s the real problem: If I leave, I don’t trust anyone here to give me a good recommendation, and I wouldn’t know how to explain to an interviewer that I have no references from my most recent position. But if I don’t list this job at all on my résumé, it creates a mysterious recent gap in my work experience. Is there any way out of a dilemma like this?” – Nate, Contract Administrator

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